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Notes: Athletics confident in Jimenez

Notes: A's confident in Jimenez

OAKLAND -- It doesn't take much to get A's manager Ken Macha to sing the praises of infield coach Ron Washington.

So instrumental in the defensive development of five-time Gold Glove third baseman Eric Chavez has been Washington, Chavez presented his second such award to the man universally known as "Wash."

Washington also converted lifelong catcher Scott Hatteberg into a serviceable first baseman after Hatteberg signed with the A's several years ago, and the list of Washington products who have elevated their play under his watchful eye is long.

Which brings us to D'Angelo Jimenez, who started at second base in Game 3 of the American League Division Series against the Twins on Friday. Jimenez was waived by the Rangers earlier this season, and he made the postseason roster only because starting shortstop Bobby Crosby and backup infielder Antonio Perez are injured.

Jimenez had never played second base for the A's prior to Friday, but the broken finger suffered by Mark Ellis in Game 2 thrust Jimenez into the spotlight.

"Wash does a great job of preparing guys to play," Macha said Friday before the game. "I have no doubt that he'll have Jimenez prepared to play, too. I don't know much about Jimenez at second base other than what I've seen in drills, and when he got here, he wasn't the smoothest I've ever seen at turning the double play, but working with Wash, I'm sure he's gotten a lot better.

"We're confident he'll be able to do the job."

Said Washington: "D'Angelo has played second base in the big leagues, so it's not like we're starting from scratch with some kid off the street. I just told him, 'Make the routine plays and you'll be fine.' That's all I care about. Anything above that is a bonus."

Macha also noted that there's a historical precedent for an emergency sub stepping up in the postseason, referring writers to the story of Brian Doyle, who played in just 39 games for the 1978 Yankees during the regular season but went 7-for-16 (.438) in six World Series games as New York dispatched the Dodgers.

"He should have been MVP of the World Series, and nobody knew who the guy was before that," Macha said. "Maybe they'll learn a little more about D'Angelo Jimenez this fall."

Super 'Scoot': Marco Scutaro, a career backup who has quite a history of coming up with big late-game hits for the A's in regular-season games, has been starting at shortstop since Crosby was placed on the disabled list with a strained back in late August. Scutaro added to his reputation as Oakland's Mr. Clutch in the first two ALDS games in Minneapolis.

Scutaro chipped in with an RBI double in each game and provided rock-solid defense.

"Nothing Marco does surprises me," Washington said. "This kid is an athlete, and he works his tail off. He's the unsung hero of this team."

Scutaro practically blushed at the suggestion, but he's clearly proud of his role in Oakland's success thus far.

"I'm just playing baseball the same way I've always played," he said. "I try to be prepared and play smart and not make mistakes. So far, I've been consistent, and that's the main goal. It's been a lot of fun."

No matter how far the A's go in the playoffs, Scutaro will be at shortstop the rest of the way. Crosby hasn't been cleared for any baseball-related activities, and he recently stopped doing rotational exercises.

"I feel bad for Bobby," Scutaro said. "But we've had guys injured all year, and other guys have stepped in and done a good job. That's why depth is so important."

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The A's would be able to replace Ellis on the playoff roster for the AL Championship Series with anyone in the organization, and infielder Keith Ginter seemed the logical choice before he filed for free agency after spending the season at Triple-A Sacramento.

Macha said he wasn't sure if the A's would be able to re-sign Ginter and make him eligible for the ALCS, but if that's possible, Macha is all for it.

"He's a Major League player," Macha said. "He has experience."

The other apparent options are prospects Kevin Melillo and Mark Kiger, who are working in the instructional league in Arizona. Kiger spent time at Double-A Midland and Sacramento this year, while Melillo spent the whole season at Midland.

Enough is enough: Macha said his team is sick of hearing about Oakland's dubious recent playoff history, which includes blowing 2-0 leads in the 2001 and 2003 ALDS and losing nine consecutive games since 2000 in which a win would have put the A's in the ALCS.

"Everybody's asking our guys about it, and they're tired of it," Macha said. "So am I. This is a new team. ... That's why I said [in a pregame press conference Friday morning] that I'm not answering questions about Game 4. That plays into the idea of us losing Game 3, and I'm not going to go there."


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Added Game 1 winner and potential Game 5 starter Barry Zito: "Uncle with that line of questioning. I'd rather get asked all those tired questions I used to get about pink pillows and stuffed animals than another 'You guys have been here before' question."

Dribblers: Macha said righty Rich Harden, scheduled for Game 4 if it comes to that, didn't look as good in his bullpen session Thursday as he did in his bullpen session Tuesday at the Metrodome, prompting pitching coach Curt Young to suggest, "Maybe we should switch that back." The reference was to the decision to push Harden back from Game 3 to Game 4 in the wake of some mechanical adjustments that needed to be made. Macha resisted the temptation and stuck with righty Dan Haren for Game 3. "We'd have been comfortable with either guy," said the skipper, "but switching back was never really considered. That would have been unfair to a whole bunch of people." ... According to a Bay Area newspaper, citing "a team source," the A's have made a contract offer to free-agent-to-be Frank Thomas worth up to $15 million with incentives. General manager Billy Beane has often said of such reports, "If it says 'team source' and it's not me or [assistant general manager David Forst], it's probably not true."

Mychael Urban is a national writer for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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